Based on witness interviews, public records and surveillance video, The Miami Herald dropped a stunning story on Friday: It alleges that for years, the Miami Gardens Police Department has racially profiled the clients and employees of a convenience store in the Miami-area city.
Yes, you’ve heard that before. But the case of Earl Sampson is especially outrageous: Sampson, the paper found, has been stopped and questioned 258 times in the past four years. The paper continues:
“He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times.
“Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana.
“Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing.
“Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens.
“But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.”
The essence of the rest of the story is that police seem to think the Quickstop is at the nexus of the high crime that has plagued the city, but along the way the store’s owner, who at first wanted to cooperate with police, noticed a pattern of abuse.
He set up a series of cameras not to protect his business from crime, but instead to capture the actions of police. Now those videos will become the centerpiece of a federal civil rights lawsuit being filed by the store’s owner.